The basics of nurturing seeds

Many home gardeners assume that perennials cannot be started from seed. While, many perennials are difficult to grow from seed, there are several varieties that are no more difficult to start from seed than annual flowers or vegetable.

If you consider the many benefits of starting perennials from seed, you may find it foolish not to give it a try. Seed is economical. You can spend hundreds of dollars purchasing the same number of plants you can grow from one seed packet. This is a great way to save money if you have a large or new garden or are on a tight budget, as many of us find ourselves on these days.

Additionally, many plants must be grown from seed because they are otherwise unobtainable or difficult to propagate any other way, and seedlings often establish better than large plants.Abundant supply also means there are plants to spare and to share.

There are some perennials that are especially easy to grow from seed. Ten plants that you may consider starting by seed include Allium (Allium spp.), Penstrum (Penstrum spp.), Primrose (Primula spp.), Silene (Silene spp.), Pinks (Dianthus spp.), Draba (Draba spp.), Lupine (Lupinus spp.), Native Columbine (Aquilegia spp.), Wild Buckweat (Eriogonum spp.), and Cone Flower (Echinacea spp.). Since these perennials are easy to start from seed, seeds can be found at local garden centers, on-line, and in your garden catalogs.

There are a few steps to take to help ensure better success when starting seeds at home. You need to think about the right amount of light, water, fertilizer, and you need to calculate the timing of planting. If you start your seeds to early, the plants will be forced to stay in the small containers too long. This can stress the plant and cause the plant to be less healthy.

Next week, I cover seed starting basics that can be applied to these perennials, annual flowers, and vegetables.

Anne Lenox Barlow has had experience in the agricultural field as a horticulture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. She can be reached by e-mail at a.lennox.barlow@gmail.com.

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